I've always been a bit surprised that the design community is so focused on objects rather than experiences and atmospheres. It comes of course from the industry, but with all due respect I think that design has become so much more and the Salone del Mobile is also changing that. We once designed a chair, which was based on an experience I have had many times when you do an innovation and there are always very positive people, and like you they are fans, believers, but there is also a small group which says is it possible, is it allowed? What are the two most common words people use when you present new ideas? How do they start their sentence? “Yes, but…” – we designed the “Yes But” chair, it’s a normal chair by Friso Kramer, a Dutch designer, but we upgraded it, we put a little voice recognition underneath it and the moment you sit on that chair and you say those two horrible destructive words, you get a short but pretty intense little shock on the backside. There’s a Chinese and English version, we're working on the Italian. I think that’s the only chair we’ve designed. It is important that we move away from the yes but to the what now. I'm a bit sad that, for good reasons, the Salone had to postpone, because I think maybe what we should do today is say “OK boys and girls, design community, we have a design challenge and it's called COVID-19.” Let's use the experience, the ideas, the connection with industry, with science to make something, to design our new normal, to come up with proposals and do an exhibition about that or, even better, implement those ideas, so we have safer or better public gatherings. I think it's weird that design communities have been silent about that, our future is defined by virus experts, by governments, billions of euros are being spent, my students say our future is frozen and silent, it’s mute, but it's a design challenge. We need to live with the virus, we need to renegotiate and redesign our relationship with the landscape, with each other, so I think the design community can definitely be more proactive and take a role in what we want our futures to look like. Can I be honest and say I miss that a bit right now? I think it will be really interesting at the Salone. We don't have an answer for everything but we have proposals, like Urban Sun that we’ve launched.
We’d like to bring Urban Sun to Milano, to the Salone, but I would also see it as a platform, as a call to action to ask other designers what their ideas are around finding a new harmony to design our new normal, and I think that will be a fascinating exhibition, people are so eager, there's such a hunger for something different. Our phone’s been ringing nonstop, since we launched it, so let's design our new normal. Urban Sun shines a large circle of this far-UVC light into public spaces, cleaning those spaces of the coronavirus. It acts as an additional layer of protection to current government rules. Urban Sun aims to inspire hope.
That's why we spend a lot of time on research, on science and have it backed up. The Urban Sun’s far-UVC light source is measured and calibrated by the Dutch National Metrology Institute VSL. Urban Sun meets the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) safety standards and is supported by the Dutch President of the Council of the Public Health & Society Board. So you really have a body of people saying this is a good idea, not just a stunt, what's new is super sensitive right, it's a sensitive topic and so we were also wondering why we were doing this – I'm spending my own time and money – we could just not do it and wait, but it was in my head – I just needed to get it out but I'm glad I did.